Lodging group endorses marketing plan for 2003
A marketing plan for Aspen that makes a concession to one group?s call for more special events to draw tourists won endorsement from the Aspen Lodging Association Wednesday.Hana Pevny, president of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, outlined a proposed 2003 marketing plan funded by the resort?s lodging tax to a gathering of lodge, hotel and condo operators at The Gant.The Aspen City Council, which must approve an annual contract to award the funds to the ACRA or a similar agency, will review the plan on Sept. 10.At that session, the ACRA is expected to go head to head with the city?s Commercial Core and Lodging Commission, which has come up with an alternative proposal to devote about half of the marketing fund ? $200,000 ? to the development of special events.The CCLC is recommending the city allocate funds for a full-time special events coordinator who will seek out sponsorship dollars and coordinate new community events.The ACRA and CCLC have a ?philosophical incompatibility,? Pevny said.?What they?re saying is, let?s hire a person and then we?ll figure out the product,? she said. ?I believe you build the product and then sell it.?To that end, the proposed 2003 marketing plan devotes $20,000 to special events, along with staff time to define potential events and sponsors, and build an event plan around ?holes? in the calendar when the resort has beds to fill.?I feel it?s important to listen to the community and make compromises where needed, so we have added special events,? Pevny said. ?We?re managing public funds. There are people in the community who feel special events are going to change the landscape of tourism in this town.?The chamber has already identified some possible new events, starting with a tentatively planned Retail Revolution at Paepcke Park during the last weekend of September. If the chamber can attract at least 20 local retailers who?d like to feature their remaining summer inventory at the sale, the ACRA will promote it on the Front Range in connection with a lodging package and Aspen Filmfest, she said.An arts and antiques fair in September 2003 and an arts festival next summer are other possibilities that have been identified, Pevny said.The marketing plan has also been expanded to embrace group sales. In fact, she said, that effort began with Aspen?s presence at this year?s convention of the American Society of Association Executives.?We feel it?s really important for the lodging community to go after this business,? Pevny said. ?Every lodge benefits if we get these large groups.?Pevny took the helm of the ACRA last spring and quickly shifted gears in the community?s marketing plan after what was deemed an unsuccessful first effort. The 2003 plan continues much of what was put in place this summer.?We?re not changing our focus. We have to stay the course. We can?t be changing course every year,? she said.The 2003 plan contains a recommended $92,500 for electronic marketing. The ACRA, Aspen Skiing Co. and Stay Aspen/Snowmass have been pooling their marketing dollars to put the Aspen/Snowmass brand on the Web.?We?re getting a lot more bang for the buck,? Pevny said.From May 20 through Aug. 20, more than 1.15 million ?delivered impressions? on America Online resulted in 7,239 ?hits? for a rate of .64 percent. The Web marketing industry standard is .25 percent, Pevny noted. A ?hit? is a computer user clicking on Aspen/Snowmass to connect with the resort?s Web site.?We?ve found from these statistics, this is a great way to spend money,? she said.The $96,000 advertising budget in the marketing plan will extend the Skico?s ?Night & Day? print ad campaign into the nonwinter months.?We believe that?s right on target,? Pevny said. ?They?re marketing the community, they?re marketing the town.?The ads, produced by Stirling-Rice Group, offer the message, ?The Difference is Night & Day,? touting days on the mountain followed by nights on the town.The marketing plan also includes a proposed $55,000 public relations budget to help promote the resort through the print media and other outlets. ABC?s recent television shoot in Aspen will have an advertising value of $1.9 million to $3.4 million when the program airs, Pevny estimated.In tracking the results of the marketing campaign, Pevny said she will look for a boost in the amount of bed tax dollars available for the 2004 plan, among other indicators.?If we get more money to work with next year, then obviously we got more people to come stay here,? she said. ?I think that?s the most important metric.?[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com]
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